In response to last week’s blog post How To Skin A Horse Of A Different Color, John Calia wrote, “A great modern day parable that explains the power of inductive reasoning. It’s McKinsey-level strategic thinking applied to everyday business and personal challenges.”
Thanks, John. I just thought it was a simple explanation of a complicated concept.
That’s what we do every day — reduce very complicated and not very compelling product explanations into short, simple, easy-to-understand, and profitable brands. Because these strategically simple messages make consumers regard, remember, and respond.
But if you’re thinking about how to reduce your brand message to just one word, I know what you’re thinking. “Sure, Bruce, defining an issue and standing for something makes a lot of sense and I can see how it works for others, but…(big sigh)…I’m different. After all, my business is much more diverse, much more creative, and much more customized to my clients’ specific needs…(bigger sigh)…you see, I do too many different things. There’s just no way I could shoehorn everything I offer into a couple of words.”
Really? Your business is too complicated to brand simply? Well then, consider Volvo.
Volvo is ostensibly in the car business. But that means they are really in a number of different businesses — transportation, manufacturing, research and development, metallurgy, engineering, upholstery, design, import/export, logistics, to name just a few. Plus, they operate retail stores (for both new and used products), and also provide sales, service, and accessories. Volvo operates under the governmental regulations of the hundreds of countries, states, and municipalities they operate in. They work in multiple languages, with multiple consumers, and in multiple currencies. And don’t forget that they don’t just make consumer automobiles. Volvo also manufactures buses and trucks and provides engines and engineering for lots of other companies. And yet despite this incredible complexity, Volvo still describes themselves with their commitment to one word: safety.
Volvo’s brand description isn’t even about what they actually provide. Nowhere in their branding do they talk about transportation or about getting from point A to point B. They talk about safety. And this positioning is so valuable that when Volvo introduced an SUV, arguably the new American suburban family car, their XC70 outsold all foreign SUVs (European and Asian) combined.
But it’s not just Volvo that understands the value of a simple brand position.
New York is “The Big Apple.” Chicago is solidly Midwestern. Los Angeles is movies, Las Vegas is sin. Miami is hip. What are you?
Apple built their brand on the da Vinci line, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” and it’s driven their product philosophy ever since, most recently resulting in one single button controlling your iPhone or iPad. Despite the outcry from Blackberry users, Apple’s iPhone does not have a raised keyboard.
Here’s what Mr. Mo’ sang:
“Two cars, three kids, six phones; a whole lot of confusion up here in my home.
500 stations on the TV screen, 500 versions of the same ol’ thing.
Y’all know it’s crazy, and it’s drivin’ me insane.
Well, I don’t wanna be a superman, I just wanna go somewhere, use my hands.
And keep it simple.
I called my doctor on the telephone; the lines were open, but there was nobody home.
Press one, press two, press pound, press three; why can’t somebody just pick up the phone and talk to me?
Well I went down to the local coffee store; the menu went from the ceiling all the way down to the floor.
Decaf, cappuccino, or latte said the cashier; I said gimme a small cup of coffee and let me get the hell up outta here.
Y’all know it’s crazy, and it’s drivin’ me insane.
Well now I don’t wanna be a superman, I just wanna go somewhere, use my hands.
And keep it simple, real simple.”
Thoreau famously wrote, “Simplify, simplify.” But maybe if he had heard Keb’ Mo’s song, he would’ve cut his credo in half to just “Simplify.”
Here’s something I don’t understand:
Status, financial success, legislative power, and importance are all the providence of commerce. Yet when we look back over history we see that great societies are remembered not by the business they did but by the art they created.
Sure, there are some stories told about the merchant classes of 15th century Amsterdam or the spice and trade routes of ancient Asia, but for the most part we remember human artistic achievement —from the Venus of Willendorf to Greek and Roman sculpture to the great composers of Europe and the jazz and blues of the American South.
In tourism, too, arts and culture drive the demand train. Shopping is a popular activity — for everything from haute couture to high-rise condos — but more and more we see successful destinations putting themselves on the map by promoting their art and culture offerings. London’s Victoria & Albert and Tate museums; Milan’s La Scala; New York’s Broadway, Guggenheim, MoMA, The Met, and more are perfect examples of this phenomenon.
And closer to home, right here in Miami, we have become one of the top four tourist destinations in the United States in no small part thanks to the contributions of Art Basel, the nascent Wynwood Art District, our collections of starchitects (Herzog, Foster, Hadid, Ghery, Grimshaw, Ingels, and homegrown Arquitectonica), the New World Symphony and the Miami City Ballet, amongst others.
So why is it that local arts communities are treated like second-class citizens? Why are budget happy legislators so quick to cut arts funding in schools?
First of all, we foolishly believe that everyone’s an artist and lessen the importance of talent. When I was a teenager, my father took me to see a Jackson Pollack exhibit. After we wandered among the paint-splattered canvases, I announced, with what must have been the best world-weary affect a 14-year old could muster, “Oh please, anyone could do that.”
The next day I got home from school to find my bedroom covered in newspaper. There was a canvas on one end of the room and a few open buckets of paint on the other. Guess what I discovered… anyone CAN’T do that.
Second, we allow others — those in both art and commerce — to steal original creative work. And whether we call it sampling, collaging or paying homage, by not giving our artists’ their due we diminish the value of their work.
Finally, we artists ourselves are to blame because we give away our work. Regardless of whether we’re eager to please, feel outclassed when negotiating with the business world or because we don’t value our work, we are directly responsible for accepting the low prices and lack of respect that so many of us receive.
So what can arts communities do to encourage original thinking, artistic development, and innovation? I call it The Five “P”s:
If we follow this simple road map, I believe we can create communities where arts and innovation are celebrated and we’ll all be better off for it. Both today and when we’re remembered in the future.
A few weeks ago I posted the question, What Business Are You In? I got lots of answers, both on and off the comment section of the blog. Many of them were very insightful — most readers understand that the reason their customers buy from them is often quite different from the function of the product they’re selling.
All of this conversation got me thinking, what business are we in? The easy answer is that we’re in the brand building business – that is, we make our clients’ products and services more valuable by changing customers’ perception of what our clients sell.
But the historically honest answer is a little more complicated.
Around the turn of the century, my business partner, Roberto, and I came to a startling revelation: after more that 15 years in business, we finally realized that we weren’t going to be able to build the greatest advertising agency in the world. There were a lot of reasons why, of course, but a few of the ones that stood out were, 1) There are just too many client verticals for us to be experts in, 2) there are too many really good agencies out there, 3) neither Roberto nor I nor our management team had all of the skills necessary to dominate every single market, and finally, 4) how do you define “best” to begin with?
Instead of giving up, we decided to look at the situation a different way. If we couldn’t be the greatest agency in all areas, was there an area that we could indeed establish superiority? Just as importantly, was there an area where we had already established proof of concept? And finally, if we chose an area, could we make a difference there both financially and personally?
Our history suggested that travel and tourism was the perfect business sector for us. We already had great experience and demonstrated our branding chops, having built business-changing campaigns for Miami, Kissimmee, the Mississippi Gulfcoast, Springfield, Missouri, LAN Chile, Aviateca, TACA airlines, Radisson Seven Seas Cruises, and more. And while there were some agencies specializing in this area, none had established leadership.
But there was another reason.
I’ve printed this Mark Twain quote before, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts alone. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
But did you know that nearly 125 years later, Maya Angelou answered Twain? “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”
Reading both of these muses, Roberto and I strongly believed that expanded tourism could make the world a better place. And we could help with that.
But we all know what Burns said happens to “the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men.” Even though we built a robust tourism practice and added significant clients and revenue to our business, 9/11 and subsequent world events conspired against anyone who specialized in getting people to fly around the world.
Lucky for us, our good client and good friend Michael Earley, CEO of Metropolitan Health Networks, Inc., explained the metrics and demographics of the burgeoning health care business. Based on Mike’s schooling, we saw fit to build on our medical experience (Jackson Memorial Hospital, Community Health Plans, Oral Health Services, Symphony Health Partners, and more) by adding a health care practice. And then we realized that recent events in the financial services sector also presented us with great opportunities and so we leveraged our experience with companies including American Express, Citi, Charles Schwab, and more to expand our reach in that arena.
What we never realized, though, was how similar the marketing strategies of these three experiential business sectors were. At its simplest level, businesses in the travel and tourism sector promise this: Come visit us. You’ll feel welcome. We’ll show you something wonderful (our assets — beaches, waterfalls, shops and restaurants, culture, etc.). And you’ll leave a better person (you’ll be more worldly, more relaxed, thinner, tanner, or whatever).
Similarly, health care companies invite people to: Come visit us. You’ll feel welcome. We’ll show you something wonderful (our assets — physicians, equipment, programs, etc.). And you’ll leave a better person (you’ll be healed or healthier).
What do banks and investment companies say? Come visit us. You’ll feel welcome. We’ll show you something wonderful (our assets — investment programs, analysts, security protocols, etc.). And you’ll leave a better person (you’ll be safer and wealthier).
What we discovered is that regardless of whether we’re selling vacations, health plans, or investments, we’re really in the business of selling experiences. And even when we’re selling products — Bacardi rums and other drinks, for example — we’re not actually selling the liquid in the bottles; instead we’re selling the experience of consuming the products and how that experience transforms our clients’ customers.
And so our old answer — we build brand value — now includes the experiential aspect. Today, we say, “We make our clients’ products and services more valuable by changing their customers’ perception of the brand experience.”
I suspect that with a little introspection you’ll find that you don’t sell what your customers buy either, but that you do something similar to what we do. That is, you sell the results that your products or services provide. And even if your concern is not commercial but revolves around being a best parent, the best not-for-profit, or the best at whatever it is you do — you’ll find that it’s the result of the experience you offer that matters to your end users.
And whether you find that to be true or not, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Last week we talked about how the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) has built a tourism marketing machine by focusing on building the singular Miami brand (you can read that post HERE). Thanks to aggressively pursuing this strategy, recent research shows that the city has become one of the top four destinations in the country.
But as I pointed out, while the change has taken a lot of years, dollars, and effort, there are a number of micro tips and techniques, all costing less than $100 apiece, that you can use to build your own personal brand. I call these practices, “Bill Knows Branding,” or BNB for short.
The Bill in question is Bill Talbert, the CEO of the GMCVB. The BNBs are the list of some of the things Bill does to keep the Miami brand front and center and also to keep his team members and partners motivated to do the same.
Bill Knows Branding Tip #1 — Always wear your brand on your sleeve.
Anytime you see a well-dressed GMCVB team member or partner, you’ll find a palm tree lapel pin in their jacket’s buttonhole. Bill insists that all of his people wear this conversation starter wherever they go. And in case you forget your pin, Bill’s always got a pocket full and hands them out happily, providing the positive reinforcement needed to establish a habit.
One weekend I ran into Bill at a wedding. He asked me why there wasn’t a palm tree glittering from the lapel of my tux. “It’s Saturday, Bill,” I responded. “I’m off the clock.”
“You’re never off the clock,” he said, handing me a pin from his collection. “But you are out of uniform.” Point taken. I now keep a pin in each of my suits so I won’t be underdressed again.
Bill Knows Branding Tip #2 — No one sends personal notes anymore. Except Bill.
Bill is one of the most tech-savvy CEOs I know. But whenever you spend time with him, you can expect a personal handwritten note to show up in the mail a day or two later. Bill knows that as the world gets more and more high-tech, the way to break through the clutter and make a statement is with high-touch. Not a phone message. Not an email. A handwritten letter. With a signature. And a real stamp on the envelope.
And when the news is really important? Bill takes a tip from Michael Gehrisch, CEO of the Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI), and sends it in a FedEx envelope. After all, what other correspondence gets brought to your desk the minute it enters your office? It’s a heck of a bargain for 15 bucks, I think.
Bill Knows Branding Tip #3 — Birthdays are only the beginning.
Thanks to Facebook, I received 217 emails on my birthday. Thanks to Bill Talbert’s micro branding techniques, I received one birthday wish a day early. You see, Bill believes it’s not enough to remember someone’s birthday, the trick is to be the first one to remember. He told me that the best compliment he got was the guy who said, “You wished me happy birthday before my mother did!”
But Bill doesn’t only send notes on birthdays. He also sends birthday notes to kids and pets. And he sends notes to his employees on the anniversary of their hires — “Thanks for 12 great years!” All great ways to let people know you pay attention and you care.
Bill Knows Branding Tip #4 — Give away $100,000.
This one costs a whole lot less than you might think. When the Powerball Lottery jackpot heads north of $80 million, Bill buys tickets for his staff. “Here’s a $100,000 bonus,” he says as he hands them out. “If you win, I get half.” It’s a lot of return for very little money.
Of course, Bill runs the risk of his good people leaving when they hit the $100 million jackpot, but I think the odds are in his favor on that one.
Bill Knows Branding Tip #5 – Business cards you can feel.
The next time you see Bill, ask him for his business card. Hopefully the first thing you notice is how colorful and beautiful it is (that was a bit of shameless self-promotion – we designed the brand and the cards). Next, you’ll notice that the card is covered with embossed bumps, his contact information in Braille, to be exact.
How many visually impaired people actually read Bill’s tactile cards? That’s hardly the point. Each Braille-enabled card tells recipients that Bill — and by extension the GMCVB and Miami — is open to all travelers.
Bill says that most everyone who gets his card says, “What a great idea, I’m going to copy it” yet as far as he knows, only one person has, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart. “You’ve made me a rock star in Washington,” the congressman told Bill. And all this from some little bumps and for less than 100 dollars.
Bill Knows Branding Tip #6 — We’re in the Good News Business.
Like many companies, the GMCVB sends out weekly newsletters. Unlike most companies, Bill sends his out on Sunday because “people will read things on Sunday morning that they won’t get to the rest of the week.” The news is always inspirational and uplifting to reward people for reading it. “Bad news is everywhere,” Bill says. “We’re in the good news business. People look forward to reading what we send.”
Bill Knows Branding Tip #7 — Anyone can answer the easy questions.
Because the GMCVB provides travel information to visitors, lots of people call the office to discuss their travel issues. And occasionally those people aren’t happy. That’s when Bill gets involved. Let’s listen in on a recent late night complaint about a local hotel and its return call the next morning:
Caller: “I know you’re just a machine, but here’s a problem I’m encountering with my reservation…”
GMCVB Callback: “I’m not a machine, I’m the CEO, Bill Talbert. Let’s see how we can fix your problem…”
As Bill says, “There’s no better time to build a fan for life than when someone’s really angry.”
Bill Knows Branding Tip #8 – Don’t dress for the job you have. Dress for the job you want.
Bill believes that the visual impression you make on the people you work for and with is one of the most important things you can control. “People have too much going on in their lives to remember much about you,” he points out. “So it’s your responsibility to plant the right impression in their minds. And if you look like the person that you want to be, you’re on your way.”
So when Bill reached middle age, even though he already was the CEO of the Miami CVB, he realized that dressing for the part meant looking youthful and dynamic. “I figured there were only two ways to go, up or down. And I’m not interested in looking older,” he says. So out went the somber gray and blue suits and the red ties, replaced by sport coats and sophisticated neckwear. You see, Bill doesn’t just preach his rules, he lives them. And wears them.
Bill Knows Branding Tip #9 — AMATT.
One of the ways the GMCVB, and Miami, benefits from the brand is that there are always new techniques to put to work. “We’re AMATT,” says Bill. “All Miami All The Time. Everyday we’re thinking up new ways to extend the brand — we’re always thinking of new tips. And anyone can use these ideas. But what we do different is that we all do it. We train our people to connect the dots.”
What tips and techniques do you have? If you’ve found some value in what Bill does, why not post some suggestions of your own to share? Who knows, if we collect enough of them, we might start the micro-branding revolution.
I’m sitting in a marketing committee meeting at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB). The GMCVB is a very long-term client of ours and a great example of a client who ‘gets it.’
As with most committee meetings, we go around the room and each group stands up and tells their story, explaining what they did over the previous quarter and how they did it.
PR talks about their public relations activities. International talks about their outreach to Asia, Europe, and Latin America. The Film, Fashion & Entertainment committee gets up and talks about, what else? Film, fashion, and entertainment. Meetings and Conventions talks about… (I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now).
But as complicated as the GMCVB and the Miami destination itself are, the overriding theme of the meeting is the strength of the Miami brand.
It seems simple now, but it took a lot of work for the GMCVB and us to convince the power structure throughout our county to narrow our marketing focus from every community and every tourist asset to just five letters: M-I-A-M-I.
The newest Frank Ghery-designed performing arts center? It’s in Miami. The hottest clubs, restaurants, and hotels? They’re in Miami, too. The most important art, marine, and electronica music festivals? They’re all in Miami. Art Basel Miami and Design Miami? (Again, I’m pretty sure you’ve got it).
Thanks to these laser-focused community assets, and so many more, what consumers worldwide have responded to — and what our client understands so well — is that our most valuable asset is our brand — Miami.
How do I know this? Needless to say we analyze and evaluate all the available travel metrics, but I have an experience that hits much closer to home.
Twenty years ago when I’d travel, the people I’d meet around the world would ask me where I was from. I’d answer “Miami” and they’d say “Oh.” Now, two decades later, when people ask me where I’m from I still say “Miami,” and they still say “Oh.” The only difference is the way the say it. The “Oh” of 20 years ago was said the way you might respond to someone who just announced they hadn’t bathed in three months, while today’s “Oh” is said with the wide smile and happy enthusiasm usually reserved for a favorite uncle or a slice of chocolate blackout cake.
Incredibly enough, years of effort, millions of dollars, and the contributions of thousands of partners and participants all worked together to accomplish this goal — changing the perception of five letters in order to go from “Oh” to “Oh!!”
Has it been worth it? The R.O.I. says “absolutely!” Miami’s hotel ADR (Average Daily Rate) is now second highest in the country after New York City. Our hotels’ occupancy rate is also the country’s second highest, trailing only Oahu. More importantly, over the last 10 years, we’ve added a significant number of jobs to the Miami economy. And our visitors’ satisfaction rate – described as how eager tourists are to return – just keeps getting better and better.
All of this is thanks to the belief the leaders of the GMCVB — Bill Talbert, Rolando Aedo, Ita Moriarty, Al West, and the rest of the team – have had in building Miami’s singular brand. By concentrating all of our efforts on promoting a county made up of 36 municipalities and three million inhabitants through a focused consumer experience, we have been able to build a lasting legacy that benefits the entire community and has become the envy of the destination industry worldwide.
You may be wondering how you can benefit from the techniques that have built Miami’s marketing juggernaut. After all, the GMCVB has a multimillion-dollar budget, a well-trained staff, and the support of thousands of community partners. And some of our macro tools do require those kinds of resources. But the GMCVB has another secret up its collective sleeve. And next week we’ll talk about the micro tips and techniques that Miami has used to build its business. None of these micro-moves cost more than $100 and all of them are ideas you can put to use immediately to build your own brand.
For the past few years, advertising to gay audiences has been the hypocritical little secret of a lot of marketers. They’re seduced by the demographics and sheer purchasing power of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) consumers but they’re terrified that their more conservative, middle-of-the-road customers might object to seeing gay couples in ads and stop buying their products or services.
To avoid this the advertisers sneak around, using same-sex models in the ads they run in gay publications, but reverting to more traditional couples in their mainstream ads. That way they can appear to be gay-friendly when they’re talking to gay audiences but still hedge their bets when they’re communicating to their bread-and-butter consumers.
I pointed this out when I spoke to a LGBT travel convention in San Francisco a number of years ago. My question to the audience was how long they were going to patronize advertisers who made half-hearted attempts to woo gay consumers by shamefully hiding their outreach in gay-only media. I also wanted to know how long the audience was going to accept namby-pamby photos that showed happy gay couples but never portrayed them in the real life situations you see in mainstream media — dancing, raising children, sleeping in bed together, and kissing.
To make matters worse, gay publications are just as complicit in this chicken-hearted ruse. Because they don’t want to rock the boat and risk losing ad revenue, they rarely point out the fact that their very readers are being taken advantage of by the companies who are advertising to them. Gay publications don’t compare the ads that run in their publications with the similar, but heterosexually oriented, ads that run in mainstream papers and magazines because they know that ultimately that will reflect badly on them — and their bottom lines.
The reason for all this is simple: Gay consumers read both gay and mainstream media but straight readers do not read gay publications.
What’s more, the true demographics of gay marketing are stacked against the LGBT consumer and those companies that want to reach them. The problem is that while the US Census counts 311,849,166 Americans as of July 26, 2011, no one really knows how many of them are homosexual. USA Today estimates the number at 25 million (12.4%) while The Washington Post says 10% of men and five percent of women are gay. And The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, a sexual orientation law and public policy think tank, estimates only 9 million (about 3.8%). Adding to the confusion, within the LGBT audience you have to account for younger and older consumers, men and women, and every other demographic (racial, cultural, etc.), all of which create new challenges for marketers.
While the total count of how many Americans identify themselves as L, G, B, or T clearly varies, what we find is that none of the gay publications actually reach a very large gay audience. It makes sense, therefore, that the print media most widely consumed by gay consumers would be mainstream newspapers and magazines — the same publications general market advertisers are using to reach their buyers. In fact, in a study done by Community Marketing, 30,000 gay respondents said that they find out about relevant stories from mainstream media 65% of the time compared to 46% of the time from gay print and online media.
Throw all this together with a few other facts and you’ll realize the great opportunity that the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York presented for our client, The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Consider the following:
Because so many eyes would be on New York’s first same-sex marriages, performed on Sunday, July 24th, it stands to reason that The New York Times’ Sunday Styles section, and its Weddings/Celebrations marriage listings would be well read by readers of all sexual orientations. And so that section presented the perfect opportunity for us to reach all of our audiences the right way — with pride, admiration, and a true sense of welcome.
But the point of this blog post is not just to point out the interesting marketing challenges inherent in reaching the gay audience. Nor is it to pat ourselves on the back for a brilliant marketing move. Instead it is to thank and congratulate our marketing partners at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau for their foresight, vision, openness to new ideas, and courage and conviction to do the right thing. And that’s something all consumers should congratulate them for.
I was a kid back in the dark ages of transistor radios. If a friend told me about a cool new song, I’d tune in to WQAM and wait until they played what I was waiting for. Usually it would take an hour or more if the song was hot. While I waited I’d get my cassette recorder plugged in and loaded so I could tape the song. Invariably, I’d miss the beginning and inadvertently record my mom calling me for dinner over one of the verses.
Sometimes I had a little allowance money burning a hole in my pocket and wanted to order something from the ads on the back of my comic books – sea monkeys, say, or X-ray specs. I’d get my mom to write a check, put it in an envelope and root around for a stamp. Then I’d drop it in the mailbox and wait the four to six weeks the small print warned me about. I’d religiously check the mailbox every day after school but that didn’t make the package arrive any sooner.
Things are different today. When my daughter gets a text message about a great new band she has to hear, an MP4 file of the actual song usually accompanies the SMS. If not, she can go to YouTube or the iTunes store, download the song to her phone and listen to it right away.
If my son wants to buy something, he can simply order it online and have it Fed-Ex’d to him in a day or two. And while he waits he can track his package as it wings its way across the country. No one over 45 actually cares where the package is until it arrives in their hot little hands but younger consumers need to know when it’s in Tulsa, when it’s in Memphis, and when it’s on the delivery truck.
Of course if it’s a book he wants, he can just one-click order it on Amazon and have it transmitted to a Kindle, iPad, or laptop in less than 60 seconds.
These buyers are labeled by a lot of names these days, – Generation X, Generation Y, Echo Boomers, Millennials – demographic titles based on when they were born. But I think it would be more accurate to name them psychographically, based on the trait they all share: their instant gratification addiction. My genius friend David calls them The Instant On Generation – the hordes of people who have grown up with the “what have you done for me next” demands of digital technology and don’t know how to function in an analog environment.
Unfortunately for them, world events are conspiring to make things very difficult for Instant-ons. Thanks to the combined effects of a burgeoning world population, expanded financial opportunity in the under-developed world and the democratization of technology, there are more people on airplanes, more people in restaurants, more people consuming natural and man made resources, and more people traveling around the world than ever before. And while Instant-ons are perfectly happy to zoom along in their digital environments, finding their friends on FourSquare, making reservations on OpenTable, and communicating with each other 24/7 across Facebook and Twitter, the sheer number of people expecting immediate service in the carbon universe is an unscalable mess that slows everything down.
Before you start pining for the good old days, remember that things weren’t that fast before. It’s just that there were far fewer people clamoring for service and those people were way more willing to wait their turn. But older consumers didn’t grow up with the instant reward and response of videos games. They didn’t grow up with the instant gratification of flash frozen prepared foods heated in a microwave. And they didn’t grow up with a 24/7 communication device glowing greedily in their pocket.
Tomorrow’s consumer did, and tomorrow’s marketer is going to have to figure out how to successfully service people who live the lyrics to the Queen song: “I want it all and I want it now.”
Talking about today’s sped up world, Steven Wright said, “If you put instant coffee in a microwave you almost go back in time.” Funny thing is I don’t smell coffee. I smell opportunity. Specifically, how to make Instant-ons happy? An improved customer experience is one way: think Disney World’s line management techniques or the TSA security experience at Las Vegas’ McCarran Airport. Here in Miami, wealthy wannabe American Instant-ons can even hire people to stand in line for them at immigration.
But all of these solutions are just Band-Aids. The true moneymakers will be the ones who figure out how to reconcile Instant-ons’ digital expectations with analog reality.